Tuesday, 15 July 2014

The Third Face by Peter Tieryas Liu

Read by Hin Leung

I’m checking x-ray levels at the airport scanners because I’m sure they’ll end up killing me when hives and a red rash ripple down my back. Allergies have made a secret strike, so Miranda, SolTech’s VP of marketing and my traveling companion, gives me some Benadryl. I take ten pills and end up feeling like a drunk in the Miami Airport. I suddenly see tiny heads physically sticking out of the skulls of strangers. Some peek over, surprised I can see them.

“It’s the manifestation of the subconscious,” Miranda’s nightmare erection tells me. “Every person has those parts of themselves they either hate or love too much and I’m a caustic reinterpretation of the cosmic orgasm that some myths call the ‘third eye.’” Only there’s a third and fourth eye, and her second mouth annoys me with its shrillness.

“What are you talking about?” I ask, reminded of a freak alien I’d seen on a television show.

“Excuse me?” Miranda replies, apparently oblivious to the head above her head. We’re supposed to attend a conference in Los Angeles to try and sell our products; robotic hands to replace doctors in surgery. I’d been excited she’d invited me, especially as I’d heard she’d just had a messy breakup with her boyfriend. I’ve been crushing on her for three years now and my desire has a whole lot to do with my obsession for the moles under her eyes, six of them that form a black constellation on her celestial map of flesh. My lust is clouding my vision, rubber cement blotting out radiation blips on a radar pointing to an ebony dipper.

The Benadryl must be screwing with my mind more than I know, not just because I’m imagining strange beasts, but I’m reeling, wishing I could turn into a jet blasting off into a hurricane to get sucked into a vortex and splatter into a million C-sections of nirvana inside her. “I’m not a Star Trek creature,” says the face in front of me.

“Are you a mutation?”

“We’re planted inside all human beings early on and have pheromones that inhibit visual reception,” the head says.

“Who planted you?”

“Consider us Earth’s watchdogs. We don’t want the planet to get destroyed the way the Venusians blew up theirs.”

“You haven’t done a very good job,” I say, convinced I must be losing my mind.

Miranda’s head says, “We don’t care about the humans. It’s the bacteria we’re protecting. They’re the truly important life on the planet.”

“What?”

“Grab my hand and lead me to the handicap bathroom over there.”

“Why?”

“Just do it.”

I reach out for Miranda’s hand and surprisingly, she grabs mine back. Considering she’s never expressed an ounce of interest in me, I’m not sure what to make of her willingly following me to the bathroom.

“Pull down her dress,” the face says after we get inside.

“Excuse me?”

“Pull it down.”

I’m embarrassed to comply, especially as I’ve fantasized about moments like this with her in something out of a bawdy soft-core flick, only with hardcore injected in, but then hear Miranda assure me, “It’s okay.”

I slip the dress off and there’s no underwear, but no genitals either. Instead, tentacle-like vines fluidly waving where her pubic hair should be.
           
“What is she?”

“She’s a human, but I’m in control now. We both wanted to pay you the courtesy of notifying you before we take over.”

“We?”

That’s when I hear a voice emerge from my skull. “We,” it confirms.

I’m horrified and stare at the mirror. Above my head, there’s a disfigured wart-covered face that’s smirking.

“What are you going to do?”

“He’s my old friend,” my second head says. “We want to share a moment.”

“What kind of moment?”

“Everyone is a fucking time thief, sucking away your minutes for useless bullshit. You have to fight for every second of your life.”

Miranda’s tentacles wrap around my legs. My face is physically drawn towards hers. The heads above me lock lips. Every cell in my body explodes. Miranda’s eyes open in shock. Blood splatters her face and my hair feels like it’s on fire. The veins from her neck spurt out a geyser of red, the heads screaming in pain. I want to faint and fall unconscious, but instead experience alien sex as pulsating migraines. Their voices are enthralled and I hear discomfiting noises sloshing above me that sound like a pair of exhausted rats committing suicide. Their moaning culminates in orgasm that forces my brain to shut down.

When I wake, I’m in a field, my body buried in the dirt. I can’t move, no matter how hard I try, and have this sudden urge for sunlight and water. I look over and see leaves growing out of my arms, tree bark covering my fingers. I’m immobile and can feel my ribs decaying from bacterium of discontent, legions of them nibbling my cartilage. They’re ravenous and my cells are changing into a plant in a cycle that gives them homes to consume until the next portable body is in place.

Next to me, there are millions of trees bigger than myself, chanting in a foreign tongue. It takes a moment to realize that all of them are singing about bacterial love. I want to scream a discordant shriek of horror in protest, but then see a plant across from me with six black holes forming a hexagram on the face of her bark. It’s a geometric anomaly I recognize all too well. I reach out for Miranda, stretching my immovable branches, spurred by our disunity. I don’t know if she senses me, but her black points become a navigational sextant for me. Touching her is my only hope for escape.

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